Book Review: The Beautiful Dead
The Beautiful Dead
By Belinda Bauer
Atlantic Monthly Press
The Beautiful Dead is the story of Eve Singer, a television reporter specializing in crime cases. When a twist of fate makes her the obsession of a serial killer, she becomes a pawn in the killer’s game and is forced to report a story where she is fast becoming the central character.
Bauer adds a lot of nice touches to make Eve an intriguing character. Little flourishes such as her self-satisfaction at actually reading an entire book, even if it is a frothy, light novel, are particularly well done. Best of all is Eve’s relationship with her father, who is losing his battle with dementia. The interactions between the two give the novel heart and make Eve a deeply sympathetic character, with quiet strength and undeniable warmth and loyalty.
Everything about the novel is quite good. The problem with it is that even though every aspect of the book is capably done, thriller fans have seen it all before. The cat-and-mouse battle between multiple murderer and intrepid sleuth has been done so many times that there needs to be really shocking twists or memorable characters to make the story shine. The Beautiful Dead does everything right, but it never goes quite far enough to become a classic in the “serial killer” genre. Additionally, the villain, introduced quasi-anonymously early in the book, is not sufficiently distinctive or malevolent enough to really make an impression.
Still, the book is a consistently entertaining read, with moments of real pathos as we are introduced to characters, learn to like and sympathize with them over the course of two pages, and then watch them get murdered, as well as a string of gently heartbreaking scenes between Even and her father. The Beautiful Dead makes no attempts to reinvent the genre, but it is consistently worth the reader’s time.